By and large, electric vehicles aren’t cheap, and EV affordability hasn’t made much progress in 2022. A surge in raw material prices has possibly put EV battery affordability gains on hold for a time. Cobalt prices in particular have caught the industry off-guard. And there’s inflation.
That’s led to a series of price hikes on popular EVs ranging from the Ford F-150 Lightning and Tesla Model Y to the Rivian R1T—all shocking price hikes of thousands of dollars and well beyond the typical yearly increases.
Supply vs. demand is especially out of balance with respect to the EV market, and the get-it-out-of-here deals EV shoppers would find up until a couple years ago on “compliance cars” have shifted to dealer premiums of thousands more.
EVs are expected to keep getting cheaper than combustion models—not just in overall ownership costs, but in up-front sales price.
2023 Nissan Leaf
In the meantime, if you’re looking only for the lowest-priced new EVs on the market, without driving range a top priority, the options are surprisingly limited. But there are some very affordable EVs, and here we’re highlighting the half-dozen models that cost less than $40,000, including destination fees.
Somehow, the cheapest all-electric models in the market stand (mostly) as an exception to those hard-to-accept upcharges.
While some of these models are likely to qualify for a reconstituted $7,500 EV tax credit—eventually—do keep in mind that the Treasury Dept. still needs to issue guidance and you should not count on claiming that for purchases made over the rest of the year.
Here are the five cheapest new 2023 model year EVs (or 2022, if ’23s aren’t out yet), either already on the market or arriving very soon, based simply on sticker price. And beware that most but not all these models are available everywhere in the U.S.—we’ve indicated where that matters.
2023 Volkswagen ID.4
Price (including destination): $38,790
EPA range: 208 miles
Noteworthy features: Plug and Charge, 12-inch infotainment screen, 45-watt USB-C port good for laptops and tablets
Volkswagen has shifted production of the ID.4 to the U.S. for 2023, and with that a more affordable VW ID.4 Standard version joins the lineup—putting its starting price under the $40,000 mark for the first time, including destination. Although powered by the same 201-hp electric motor at the rear wheels as step-up ID.4 Pro models, the ID.4 Standard gets a smaller battery pack (62 kwh vs. 82 kwh) that amounts to an estimated EPA range of 208 miles, rather than as high as 275 miles with the larger pack. VW hasn’t skimped on the features, though; the Standard version gets a park-assist system, an extensive package of active-safety features, and a big 12-inch touchscreen. The ID.4 is pleasant to drive and it’s more spacious and comfortable than all the other models in this cohort; the glitchy interface has been one of our least favorite features here, but it’s getting better through over-the-air updates.
2023 Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai Kona Electric
Price (including destination): $35,295
EPA range: 258 miles
Standard tech: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Although Hyundai’s buzz-worthy Ioniq 5 EV might be getting all the attention, the smaller, still-stylish Hyundai Kona Electric will give many cost-conscious shoppers the fully electric shift they want—with enough driving range—at many thousands less. After it dropped the former Ioniq Electric from the lineup for 2022, Hyundai made the price of the Kona Electric far more attractive, shaving off about $3,000. The 64-kwh battery pack can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in just 47 minutes, according to Hyundai—more predictably than the Ioniq 5, we might add—and its real-world potential is close to its 258-mile EPA range. While 2023 pricing isn’t yet out, the Kona Electric was given a refreshed look for 2022 along with its price drop, with a revamped instrument cluster and upgraded 10.3-inch infotainment. Hyundai’s infotainment interfaces are among the best in this bunch. Also, however, keep in mind that the Kona Electric isn’t offered at all dealerships and all states—although Hyundai’s working on it.
2022 Mini Cooper SE
Mini Cooper SE
Price (including destination): $35,075
EPA range: 114 miles
Standard tech: Heated steering wheel, satellite radio, panoramic sunroof
The 2023 Mini Cooper SE doesn’t really have the range to be an only car, with its 114-mile rating, but this layout, which keeps the battery—and curb weight—on the light side compared to other EVs results in go-kart-like quickness that’s perfect for city driving. With its brand of quirky, we think the little two-door Cooper SE is a good match for commuters who already have bigger sedans or SUVs in the stable. Just beware that this model is very hard to come by. Due to supply-chain issues, Mini has already indefinitely dropped the value-leading base model, which started at $30,750. That leaves the next-up Signature 2.0 version, with its panoramic roof and appearance upgrades, at a less tantalizing $35,075. No word on when the real deal of the lineup will be back.
2022 Mazda MX-30
Price (including destination): $34,645
EPA range: 100 miles
Noteworthy features: Gas models for weekend trips, with a loaner program
Mazda’s products have for decades been strikingly different in design and engineering, and the 2022 MX-30 EV is no exception. The company’s first EV for the U.S. has a small 35.5-kwh battery pack and only a 100-mile range—and it’s only California-bound at first. But Mazda has shown that it understands the front-wheel-drive EV’s sweet spot for commuters; with it there’s a MX-30 Elite Access Loaner Program, in which owners get 10 days of access to other Mazda models per year, for three years. The rear-hinged back doors promise more practicality than a coupe but instead deliver what amounts to rather odd, cramped interior packaging. And in case this still isn’t enough quirky for you, a rotary range extended version is also on the way.
2023 Nissan Leaf
Price (including destination): $28,895
EPA range: 149 miles
Standard tech: DC fast-charging, 240V charging cable
Nissan applied a big price cut to the 2022 Leaf that helped make room for the Ariya crossover expected soon, and 2023 Leaf prices have only been raised a few hundred dollars. This founding member of the modern EV cohort still keeps it basic, with a single-motor, front-wheel-drive layout and a 40-kwh battery pack good for 149 miles, and a roomy back seat and comfortable ride still stand as strengths versus the other lowest-priced EVs. The Leaf Plus, at $36,895, upgrades to a 62-kwh pack with a maximum 212-mile range and quicker fast-charging—if you happen to find a CHAdeMO-format charger that can do more than 50 kw. All new Leafs include DC fast-charging, which was omitted on base models until a few years ago,
2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV
Price (including destination): $26,595
EPA range: 259 miles
Standard tech: Mobile 240V charge cord, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
The vast majority of electric cars have been given significant price hikes for 2023, but that isn’t the case for the Bolt EV family, which includes the longer-wheelbase Bolt EUV. GM had already dropped the price of the Bolt models for 2022 by about $5,000 across the lineup, while wrapping in improvements throughout that included a refreshed interface and better seats and materials. Then 2023 Chevy Bolt EV and EUV prices were lowered again, by $5,900 and $6,300, respectively, in the aftermath of a recall campaign that resulted in battery-pack replacement for many earlier Bolts. GM has even gone so far as to apply a retroactive discount to some buyers of earlier Bolt EV models bought new in 2022—all in the name of setting a price walk up to the upcoming $30,000 Chevrolet Equinox EV and $45,000 Blazer EV models due in a matter of months. Versus the Bolt EV, the EUV starts $1,600 higher and drops 12 miles of EPA range, but many shoppers will see it as a worthwhile tradeoff for the extra back-seat space. Also of note: The Bolt EV now includes an 11.5-kw onboard charger, which means you can make the most of any Level 2 charge points you find along the way.